Mommo (2009)

Dir. Atalay Tasdiken

I think Penny and possibly Grace would like this, although it’s not something I’d urge them to see. Kevin and Chris might also have a good chance of liking this as well. Next, I would choose Jill. I wouldn’t expect Don, Marc or Joel to like this very much–at best I’d expect them to think this was OK. No to Larri.

This is Turkish film about a young boy and his sister living with their grandfather. Their father has married another woman and she refuses to allow his children to live with them. The grandfather is old and knows he can’t take care of the children much longer, so he struggles to find someone to take care of them.

Some of the scenes with the brother and sister reminded me of Grave of Fireflies, the Japanese animated film about Hiroshima (post-bombing). It also had the feel of Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows.

I watched this while I was sick, so I don’t know if that affected my experience of the film, but the film didn’t really have an impact on me, except for the ending, although my anticipation of the ending diminished the impact a bit.

After the film, I couldn’t help wondering about the point of the film or the intention behind it. Was the situation a common occurrence in Turkey and was the film trying to draw awareness to this situation? Was there some cultural or historical context that would make the film more meaningful?

I feel like I don’t fully understand the film, so I’m hoping Arlyn can shed some light for me.

5 Responses to “Mommo (2009)”

  1. Arlyn

    Hope you’re feeling better.

    Some of the scenes with the brother and sister reminded me of Grave of Fireflies, the Japanese animated film about Hiroshima (post-bombing). It also had the feel of Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows.

    Good comparisons. For me it reminded me of the Iranian brother and sister movie, Children of Heaven, along with another Turkish movie that also takes place in the Turkish countryside, Bal.

    It’s based on a true story and I don’t think it’s a common occurrence.

    Throughout the film while the brother was asking his younger sister to be brave about the tale of the mommo (bogeyman) in the house, he was also fearful. That hole in the wall where the bogeyman lived in their house symbolized the hole that their parents left in their lives. Their fear of losing their parents was realized and it was heartbreaking to see their father reject them. In the end, there’s still a sense of hope.

    Mommo to me was a movie about love. Love between a brother and sister. And the other family members who looked after them: the grandfather, the grocer and the aunt in Germany. I felt the love between the filmmaker and his characters. This movie really got to me and reminded me what it was like looking after my sister when we were younger. How Mark Twain could get inside of children’s heads and remember what it was like to be a kid so long ago…This filmmaker has that ability.

    It’s a quiet film with beautiful shots of Anatolia, which I preferred over Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Memorable performances by all the actors, especially the young actor who played Ahmet, Mehmet Bulbul.

    Also, I would recommend this movie to kids like my nephew and niece who are as young as eleven and twelve. It felt like an art film and it’s something I’d introduce to them so they’re aware of the different types of films at a young age.


  2. Reid

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m not really sure about why the film didn’t have a similar impact on me.

    In the end, there’s still a sense of hope.

    How so? I didn’t get that sense at all.

  3. Arlyn

    I could be way off on the significance of that hole that stared at them in their home. I found it awkward that the kids had to pass it on the way upstairs the same way it was awkward that their father lived in the same village and didn’t acknowledge them some days.

    In the end, I felt a sense of hope. Rather than send the kids to an orphanage the grandfather chose for the girl to live with a wealthy family where she would do light chores and eventually go to school like the previous girl that lived with this couple. Their mother’s sister was still in the process of trying to have them come to Germany to live with her. As long their aunt was around I felt that there was hope for both siblings to be reunited.

  4. Reid

    No, I think you’re right about the hole. I had the same interpretation, although you fleshed it out better than I did.

    As for ending in hope, I don’t know. For some reason, I wasn’t completely sure the girl would be OK. Shaving her head had connotations of a cult, and I had concerns about her becoming a sex-slave or something. Granted, the lady who arranged this is supposedly someone the grandfather trusts–then again, the grandfather was really desperate, so maybe he felt he had no choice.

    The Aunty was still trying to get the kids, but that was about two years away–and a lot of things can happen.

    I don’t know. The tone of the ending seemed pretty bleak, too. (I’m not against a bleak ending, btw.)

  5. Arlyn

    Yes, because it’s not uncommon for poor families to sell their children into sex slavery, I didn’t think the outcome was that bleak. They shaved her head because the new family wanted to make sure she was clean (lice) when they picked her up. I think it’s common in countries like Turkey for wealthy families to adopt children in this way.

    Since a close family member, in this case their mom’s sister, has immigrated to a country of opportunity like Germany, I think the chances of these kids getting a better life is great. It sounded like she wasn’t going to give up.

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